|Water Margin character|
|Rank||25th, Defence Star (天退星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Infantry leader of Liangshan|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Yuncheng County (in present-day Heze, Shandong)|
|First appearance||Chapter 13|
Lei Heng is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 25th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Winged Tiger".
Lei Heng is from Yuncheng County (in present-day Heze, Shandong). Formerly a blacksmith and butcher, he decides to change his career and becomes a constable in the local county office. He maintains close friendships with Zhu Tong (a fellow constable) and Chao Gai (the headman of a village in the county).
The novel describes Lei Heng as standing at about seven chi, with a purplish face and a string of whiskers on his face. He possesses immense strength and excels in martial arts. His most outstanding skill is his ability to leap across a body of water several metres wide and jump over high walls with ease. This ability, when combined with his prowess in martial arts, earns him the nickname "Winged Tiger". He stands up to injustice and often uses his combat skills to help the poor.
Once, while patrolling the neighbourhood with his soldiers, Lei Heng chances upon Liu Tang, who has fallen asleep in a temple after getting drunk. He mistakes Liu Tang for a wanted fugitive, arrests him and brings him back to the county office. Along the way, Lei Heng and his men pass by Chao Gai's village and stop for a break. Chao Gai recognises Liu Tang and lies to Lei Heng that Liu is his nephew. Lei Heng obliges to Chao Gai's request and releases Liu Tang. However, Liu Tang is still angry with Lei Heng for arresting him earlier without reason, so he sneaks up on Lei later and fights with him. Neither of them is able to overcome his opponent after several rounds of fighting. Chao Gai arrives at the scene and stops the fight.
In a later chapter, after Chao Gai and his six friends are revealed to be the ones who robbed a convoy of birthday gifts for Cai Jing (the Imperial Tutor), the magistrate of Yuncheng County orders Lei Heng and Zhu Tong to lead soldiers to Chao's village to arrest the seven men. However, Lei Heng and Zhu Tong value their friendship with Chao Gai so they help him and his friends escape. Lei Heng enters through the main entrance and makes loud noises on purpose to alert Chao Gai and his friends to his presence, while Zhu Tong allows them to leave through the back gate.
Becoming an outlaw
One day, Lei Heng goes to watch a performance but forgets to bring his moneybag with him. He gets into a heated argument with the singer Bai Xiuying and her father, Bai Yuqiao, after they keep pestering him to pay for watching the show. He hits Bai Yuqiao in anger after Bai insulted him. Unknown to him, Bai Yuqiao is a close friend of the magistrate of Yuncheng County, so Lei Heng gets arrested after the Bais report him to the magistrate. Lei Heng is shackled in chains and forced to stand outside the county office to be publicly humiliated.
Lei Heng's mother gets into a quarrel with Bai Xiuying when she comes to deliver food to her son. Bai Xiuying slaps Lei Heng's mother in anger and incurs Lei's wrath. Lei Heng is unable to tolerate Bai Xiuying's overbearing attitude towards his mother, so he rises up and kills Bai by slamming his chains on her. The magistrate sentences Lei Heng to exile in Jizhou (薊州; present-day Ji County, Tianjin) and orders Zhu Tong to escort Lei to the prison camp in Jizhou. Zhu Tong releases Lei Heng on account of their friendship and helps Lei escape. Lei Heng brings his mother along with him to Liangshan Marsh and joins the outlaw band there.
Campaigns and death
Lei Heng becomes one of the leaders of the Liangshan infantry after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. He follows the Liangshan heroes on their campaign against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong.
During the campaign against the rebel leader Fang La, Lei Heng is assigned to attack Deqing County (in present-day Huzhou, Zhejiang), where he is slain in battle by the enemy general Si Xingfang. He is posthumously awarded the honorific title "Martial Gentleman of Loyalty" (忠武郎) by the emperor in recognition of his contributions during the campaigns.
- List of Water Margin minor characters#Lei Heng's story for a list of supporting minor characters from Lei Heng's story.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 51. EPB Publishers Pte Ltd, 1992. ISBN 9971-0-0252-3.
- Buck, Pearl. All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell Ltd, 2006. ISBN 9781559213035.
- Zhang, Lin Ching. Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House, 2009. ISBN 978-7506344784.
- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.
- Miyamotois, Yoko. Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
- Shibusawa, Kou. Bandit Kings of Ancient China, pages 72–74, 93, and 95. KOEI, 1989.